The Low Side of High Lottery Hopes

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- No doubt about it, Mega Millions fever is at its peak.

With the jackpot $636 million strong and potentially growing if no one wins Tuesday night, so do the dreams of what people will do with the money.

But for some people the dream is a dangerous one because they don't know when to stop.

Patty Deutsch, a counselor with First Choice Health Systems, said spotting a gambling addict can be difficult.

"It's a specific addition that's a little different because it doesn't smell bad," Deutsch said. "People don't fall. It's not something obvious like other addictions. So, often times, it goes undiagnosed and not known by the families and understood by the families."

She's heard from people perceived as responsible who've gambled away their retirement accounts. But Deutsch explains it is an addiction, not a character flaw.

"You want to gamble more, maybe you had a big win, early on, that is a trigger for most people," she said. "It's a dopamine thing in the brain, and it encourages people to go back."

Lawmakers have put into place perimeters to help if you come to the realization you have a gambling problem -- 1-800-GAMBLER is a place to start.

From there, counselors can point you in the right direction.

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